Rahul G.

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How Can We Make TED Attractive To Children?

TED has changed my perspective on many aspects of life. I am inspired to do many things, but I sometimes feel it is too late. Making lifelong decisions is part of growing up, and I truly feel a resource like TED can help one make those decisions.

These decisions must be made in one's early stages in life: as a child/teen. TED talks are relatively sophisticated and require a high degree of maturity and intellect to fully grasp; competencies which are made available over time.

How can we gear the Talks towards children, and help them understand how vast our world is, and their opportunities are? I sure wish I knew about TED when I was younger; but the sad thing is, I think that even if I did, I would get bored very quickly simply because I would not understand.

I am interested in your opinions and thoughts so I can try to implement some tactics in my local community.

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    Apr 20 2011: am 20... yet i haven't made a life long decision. does that mean am not growing up? am reall worried reading ur words... i like ted. i want to be active in this. but dont know how.. that has been my problem always, i know wot i want but dont know how...and usually end up in things i dont want...like am doing engineering course now and i dont want to be an enggineer..am not a technical kind of person and i like to do motivational talks and writing..but i simply dont know how to make a carrier out of that...i might say am a kind of ameture and really dont know how to make it into the profesionel world..
    • Apr 20 2011: I empathize! I am also 20 and am currently in a major I don't really like. I'm trying to balance passion with something that I can make a living with, it's hard.
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      Apr 20 2011: Pranoy I think your questionning is normal and good. Not all of us have the chance to know exactly where we want to go at a very young age. You are asking yourself questions and you will find the answers. You are still young and you have the time to try different things, and to make mistakes. Most of the things we do in life turns out to be useful sooner or later so I m sure that at some point your engineering skills will be important to you. Maybe you could mix them with your passion and create some new job or activities.
      But what is important I believe, is to meet as many inspiring people as possible, try to talk and meet that you admire for what they do, even if that has nothing to do with engineering or talks and writing.
      And also, if you want to make some changes in your life and be "active", start small... start changing small things every day and you will end up making big changes.
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    Apr 14 2011: Firstly, TEDTalks that might be interesting for children, should be tagged or rated or labelled "for children" or recommended for a certain age, so that parents who want to show TEDTalks to their kids could easily find them.

    Secondly there could be a special channel (maybe in youtube to start with) for TEDxYouth Talks, etc.. (Maybe there is already one?)

    And maybe there is a collection of links somewhere for parents to present and recommend platforms like disqo.org or the KhanAcademy?

    I am also asking myself if it always needs to be connected with gaming? If a talk, video, experiment, etc. is presented in an inspiring, interesting, astonishing way, it should fascinate children without having to use gaming strategies.
    • Apr 15 2011: Sounds like a solid start. Gaming seems to be one of the many ways to reach out to youth (like myself). I think in general, though, we just want to be inspired and interested. TED is absolutely fantastic, but I can imagine how it could really appeal to the youth by inviting youth speakers to talk about pertinent issues to the youth of today. It would be useful to people of all ages...many youth issues are really just global issues in different clothing.
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      Apr 17 2011: Katja - thanks again for some great thoughts and interesting recommendations (disqo.org looks fascinating)

      I'm thinking even younger children, too... the younger the better. Sparking/nurturing/inspiring a thirst for knowledge and for learning.
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      Apr 20 2011: Katja, your ideas are really good. I think that s the way to go.
      1) create a label "for children" on existing TED talks to make it easier for parents, teachers, kids or anyone which want to use these videos with children.
      2) Create a channel like TEDxYouth, with talks from teens and kids and on subjects that matter to them
      3) Disclose these talks on websites platforms for parents, teachers, kids...
      4) Gaming is also an excellent idea. More an more kids spend their time playing games and it can be a strong mean of education
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    • Apr 14 2011: Especially if we could get these televised, TV is very effective at grabbing a child's attention. Easy-to-understand topics would also help.
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        Apr 17 2011: hahah TV..
        • Apr 17 2011: Never know until you try.
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          Apr 17 2011: Why not, Tom?

          Why not take the medium they are already most familiar with and use that as a launching pad for introducing them to TED-style content? I know my son loves TV, but we've weaned him off iCarly style stuff and more into Mythbusters, Bang(Pop?) Goes the Theory, How It's Made....shows that are science based....I find kids aren't as interested in social theory as they are in how things work... I think those are the kinds of shows that we need to be presenting...
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        Apr 17 2011: sure:p
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    Apr 14 2011: Great idea - let us do it. My proposal: let kids give talks, let kids choose their topics, let them moderate and let them film. then kids will watch and comment. for sure this TEDxKID will be so interesting a lot parents will watch it - and of course other children.

    new chances for the youth, the freedom to engage and to explain will result in innovation and responsibility surprising us. have a look at "inter-cool" on the youth going to museums, a similar challenge. http://tinyurl.com/5wrqgeq
    • Apr 15 2011: Fantastic idea. I think the key will be to ensure that it doesn't feel contrived like many of the educational children's programs of the past that were supposedly written by "kids" for kids.

      I like this concept a great deal. Youth inspiring youth; we'd be speaking to each other with relevant issues in mind in the same language.
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    Apr 14 2011: Translating TED.com to the local languages, and as Nafissa Yakubova says animated TEDtalks ( WB or Desiny can do that) and most important step : adding TED as school material ( class a week or something ).
  • Apr 19 2011: If you want teens to watch TED then I think TED should start featuring teens speaking. TED should hold a world comp to find teens who can share their own ideas with the world.
  • Apr 17 2011: I am 15 so I'm pretty much in the middle of being a teenager or a child.But I've been watching TED for a long time and discussing its themes with people all over the world at my age.The main problem with having TED for yougsters is that you can't tell in general what kids of a certain age understand.Some kids can deal with the actual problems of society and decide for themselves what to think,but most kids grow up in social situations where they haven't learned yet to decide for themselves.It's a great idea but the thing is can children (5-10 years) really understand the content even though it's simplified?

    You want a generation of young innovative thinkers well first you have to get their parents to think innovative.
    Students are willing to learn if you give them the opportunity to think and act on their own.
    The themes have to be things they actually can relate to.Otherwise they won't work with it.
    So the only thing teens really want is information they can relate to and control what they're doing with it.
  • Apr 14 2011: I agree with the comments about that there should be a sort of TEDX for kids.
    I also think that there are enough TED talks that would be very interesting (and funny) for kids to be shown in school.

    Another thing I'm working on is making posters / infographics / comics of TED Talks. Just to make them more approachable for people who don't know about TED yet (yes I still meet those people!). Not so much as a replacement for a TED talk ofcourse, but more as an introduction to the cool stuff you can learn from it. I'm just really busy so I don't seem to really get down to finishing things in the near future... if anyone's interested... perhaps it would be nice to build a community around the concept of using design, art, animation to extent the reach of TED.
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    Apr 16 2011: TED deals in deep, intellectual stuff; I simply don't think that it's the sort of place that a child would ever want to spend their time around. Young kids are always going to want to be involved with more tangible, simpler sorts of fun, and anything this sophisticated will just be too much for their brains to really appreciate, or for them to be entertained by. I understand why you want to get people exposed to this site at a young age, but if we try too hard to make TED accessible to children, we will end up diluting the material to the point where they might as well be watching Seaseme Street.

    Teens is a much different group of people than children, and they would be totally receptive to this site if they were exposed to it, and if they were interested in these types of discussions. I'm 18 and I like TED a lot because I enjoy these profound discussions and all the ideas floating around here. The best way to get more teens involved with TED is simply to advertise it to them--put links to this site on other sties that are popular with my age group, and make an FB page for it if there isn't one already.
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    Apr 14 2011: My kid loves TED talks. He's 15. Just yesterday, he sent a link to Paul Root Wolpe's talk to me and a dozen of his closest high school friends. His friend D. responded with, "yeah...wow just wow." That'll do.
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    Apr 14 2011: I think Nafissa has a good point here, animating talks on topics interesting to children would make them much more accessible.

    An alternative to using animation could be taking the slides from a certain talk and using them to create a new video with a new recorded audio track, this time however using something similar to Wikipedia's simple English. Not all speakers use a language accessible to all ages like for example Hans Rosling does. Considering the success of the translation project I am sure that enough volunteers would be willing to pair up in teams and record new tracks for the talks, all they would need are the slides provided by TED.
    If the speaker is ok with it, you could then post these new talks in a separate section.
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      Apr 14 2011: I don't know. Many of the talks are successful because of the speaker and not only for its content.

      If you want to produce talks especially for kids, they should be done by the speakers themselves, I suppose. Many speakers don't use slides. They are just telling their story. I don't think it's possible to take existing talks and redoing them in a child-friendly way in an open-source project. But maybe I'm underestimating the power of the cloud?
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        Apr 17 2011: I see your point and I agree, we would definitely need some very good people to re-tell such stories. However, considering how many TEDsters there are, I'm sure this shouldn't be a big problem.
  • Apr 14 2011: I think a way to have kids watch TED, is to be involved in TED. We need to plan and design a TED kids.
    Dan, am Egyptian, I want to share with you that the revolution in Egypt that managed to free us from Mubarak and his 30 years of rule was planned and executed by youth your age, it is not too early for you and your generation to be part of the political and social life.
    You are doing the right thing watching TED and getting involved, keep it up
  • Apr 14 2011: I'm not entirely sure what can be done to aid with the younger kids, but as far as teenagers go, I have been watching Ted videos for about two years now and I'm 16 right now. I watch because of the lack of enrichment and learning going on in school. By school is one of the top rated schools in my state but that's only because the put so much pressure on the students to do well on the SAT's and tests, and the students are naturally smart. The teaching is in most cases, as poor as you might find in other locations, despite the few gem teachers that are wonderful. I've been starving for knowledge, and have been building up a frustration with the political system in the United States, human rights all over the world, and especially the broken education system. Enter Sir Ken Robinson, i heard him speak on education and his talk embodied my passion to bring change and make things better. I got his book "The Element" and devoured it. I've found the main problem with relating to and inspiring other teens about the world is that they just don't care. They berate me, saying that i'm too young to worry about human rights and politics. This attitude changes however, as soon as i talk about education. I've exposed a great many students in my school now to Ken Robinson through linking to his video on facebook. Students care about education because it's a system in which we are the victims. I have felt a bit apart from my peers for a long time, i would hang out with them but i couldn't hold a conversation, as they don't care about a crisis in the middle east, and I don't care about MTV. I do wish there was a way for "normal" teens to get involved and find out about the world around them. I'll still come to the regular TED website however, as I do every day, watching as many videos and as many converations as i can.
    • Apr 14 2011: Good for you, Dan!

      A couple of other people here have stated that TED talks in general are too difficult/complex/whatever for teens. Do you agree?
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        Apr 17 2011: Not Dan, but I am seventeen. I find the talks accessible, but, to be fair, I spend most of my time learning new things and reading books most people my age wouldn't! Also deeply interested in society and philosophy and therefore have a propensity to spend my time learning as a hobby and not see it as a laborious chore that some of my peers do.

        If they have an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and a reasonable background, they should enjoy the talks.
        • Apr 17 2011: Right there with ya, mate. Many teens do see learning as more of a chore. It outcasts many young intellectuals as social deviants. Exposing children to TED early can help reverse this problem.
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          Apr 17 2011: Dan


          I'm in the same situation:P
          A ted with a section for teen would be nice.
          Personally, I don't have much friends who have an interest in ''DISCUSSION''
          A section for ''us'' would give a oportunity to express ourself.
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          Apr 17 2011: Chabel - the way you describe yourself in terms of a learner ("Spend my time learning as a hobby...an insatiable thirst for knowledge") is EXACTLY what TED for children/teens should incorporate into their mission statement. You might want to play an important role in doing this.
          The good news is that TED has already begun the process - See Katja Tongucer's link above.
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          Apr 17 2011: I'm 19 and I have been watching TED almost every single day for two years now. I think that for people around 16, the intellectual nature of TED might scare them away but making a new channel, more visual, ''cooler'' (dumbing down the talk, and making it more attractive to the eye) while keeping the same message could interest teenagers from 10-17.
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    Apr 14 2011: How thoughtful, in fact this has prompted to use TED within my community. In my opinion if you already have a community then TED could be a source of binding the community together. Lets request TED and Co to come up with something for children.
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    Apr 20 2011: Great topic Rahul! I think it would be amazing to have a TEDKid, with a mixture of the present talks that are "kids friendly" and some easier talks, done directly by kids/teens on topics that are important to them, and with the innovative ways they propose to address these issues.

    I think that while watching the videos, kids should understand quickly how they can make a change at their level, in their family, in their community, in their school...
    A lot of TED talks propose innovative ways to change the world, and they are just "Waow" but the ideas might be a bit out of reach for people that young. TED kids should propose them innovative ways to change THEIR world, they should be "Waow, I can do that too even if I am 10/14 yrs old".

    Through my work, I am in direct contact with hundreds of girls (6 to 14) every day since 3 yrs. We try to teach them strong values and open them up to the world, and how they can stand up, do things for the world to get better. And they LOVE it! They are really asking for it, they want to know what happens in the world, they want to know how they can do things that has a sense.

    So there is clearly a public for TED talks for younger. Then these videos need to reach the kids and teens but there are many ways for that as some of you already said. TV of course, schools, teachers, but internet is a strong way of divulgation too. These videos must meet teens where they spend time on the internet, they need to be on social networks and other websites . We would be happy as an example to play these videos on our website and organize talks, challenges around them.

    So definitely YES to TED Kids & Teens, let's ask them what is important to them, let's identify some of them which did great things and let's them have a talk and inspire other kids, teens, parents, teachers, everyone.... Parents can bring TED to their child, but Children can bring TED to their parents, education works both ways...
  • Apr 18 2011: I believe TedTalks are understandable for anyone above 12 years old. Maybe inviting some remarkable teens to talk would be a way to attract some more teenagers.
    However, i feel like it doesn't matter whether it's understandable for teens since most teens wouldn't feel concerned by such talks and wouldn't listen to it by themselves anyway. I'm 23 and I've been reading business books and magazines for over 10 years. I do know that it has not been the case for most teenagers and If they don't feel concerned you can't really force them, it has to be a self-process...
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      Apr 17 2011: I think your pushing it a little too much. Music would distract the audience from what is actually being said. With respect to more compelling graphics, I think that current ted talks are quite compelling as they are. It is the speakers that bring in the technology they present that add to that.

      Each presentation is different. Some simply have the screen to present pictures. David Christian had special graphics to show a Big History timeline. The way the content is presented on the screen in more important.

      I would be more to agree with Katja here below. We would need to create a different channel. Different talks intended for children but with the same sort of material. Material here is, as Rahul mentioned, slightly too sophisticated for children. I myself started watching ted in high school and only secondary 5 students (grade 11) were starting to get interested. I think it needs simply to be dumbed down a little. Bring a platform that also encourages geniuses around the world to adress children as well.
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    Apr 17 2011: I've just re-read through all the comments below and get a sense that, in most cases, those who are responding are not educators - am I wrong? I see this project working not just for teens, but younger - much younger. We need to form a group and think outside the box on this...
    Change IS all about education, especially education of children. For example: long term, if you want to educate people about the health issues connected to what you eat, where are you going to spend most of your time and resources? Re-teaching adults or teaching children?
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    Apr 17 2011: I think this is a fantastic idea!!! Education reform is a top priority and TED should be involved!!! What might work is to form a separate division of TED that is devoted to younger audiences. One that inspires, empowers and connects children to learn and contribute to the continual formation of a more perfect world. Something that enriches every other aspect of education of children.

    I'm an early childhood specialist and educator. I'm a big Sir Ken Robinson devotee. I'm a curriculum adviser and developer and have a real desire to make this (TED for children) a reality. TED has greatly enriched my life and know it could do the same for children. Let's explore.... What's the first step?
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    Apr 17 2011: I am seventeen and have frequented TED for a while! I just decided to get an account here, and I am very glad I did :)
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    Apr 16 2011: I think teachers can't afford $6,000 dollars each to go to TED events, but if TED would select from a pool of teacher applicants, and bring in 20 teachers every year, then give them responsibilities to each provide workshops/presentations to other teachers in their city/region, you could jumpstart a growth process so that the active minds of teachers would spend time looking for strong talks they could use in their classrooms. I, for one, have already started building lessons around some of them. Some elements had to be explained (that's what pause buttons are for), but my 6th-8th grade computer students LOVED the video about beating the Stuxnet virus!
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      Apr 16 2011: How about instead of limiting the amount of people who can attend due to as you say financial limitations, surely some regional TED events directed at Teachers where the price can be kept low enough to attend. It seems to me that the most amazing thing about TED is that it is educational. No matter what area one might be interested in there is an education to be had.
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        Apr 16 2011: It's a good idea in principle. I wouldn't want it "directed at teachers" in itself, however, because the end user is the students across all areas of the curriculum. It should have a similar breadth to normal TED events, and draw a similarly diverse crowd. I just want to make sure part of that diversity are teachers who can translate the material on to their students.
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    Apr 15 2011: Critical thought education branch of TED!
  • Apr 15 2011: I am a high school senior and since learning about Ted I have started trying to simply One video a day. They are awesome and I think High schoolers can understand that they just need to be exposed and given a time to watch them. When you are able to watch talks and see school beyond the class room and the books most kids would take interest as long as you just dare them to think independently.
  • Apr 15 2011: I'm passionate about making the next generation a group of critical and innovative thinkers, and as a teacher I have shown a few "child friendly" ones to my junior students. The more complex and sensitive topics parents should filter and pick through. Children will absord what they understand and they should have an adult with them to answer their questions. I would love to see TED create a youth version! You could even sell a preschool version to Sesame Street?
    Technology and Design are the future and our students need this!!
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    Apr 14 2011: Children is somewhat of a broad term, however, I am not sure that children are not necessarily not interested in TED. Children seem to be naturally inquisitive, and want to learn more, but that seems to fade for some when they reach their later teen years. The 'questioning our environment' concept is present throughout our lives though. I feel that if children had more exposure to new ideas from TED, that they would be responsive to them. I didn't read all of the comments on this post, but I would think talking to local schools, or individual teachers could make a huge impact on the awareness of the site, and children's decision making/thought process in general. Everyone is curious about something, it just needs to be sparked in that individual, and I feel that TED has something to offer everyone. Exposure is key though. If anyone of any age doesn't know that this site is here, what are the chances that they will stumble upon it themselves and be that curious without some sort of guidance? I don't believe that their interest in it is the problem, but there lack of knowledge on the existence and accessibility of the ideas that TED offers.
    • Apr 15 2011: There are definitely a few teachers who are using TED videos in class. I was actually first introduced to TED by a Wade Davis video shown in History class a couple years ago...more recently, my physics teacher has used TED videos as an introduction to modern physics (ie. the LHC, superstring theory).

      I think the first step is to spread this site to school districts, and hopefully it will take off from there as more and more people in guidance positions discover TED. There's unfortunately a bit of a bias against a lot of internet video in school because the only such site that many people have been exposed to is Youtube and the various viral videos up there. However, TED's such a great repository of knowledge that it seems inevitable that it'll eventually become a mainstream educational site.
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    Apr 14 2011: The time to get them is very young. I have a daughter 4 and a daughter 15. the 4 year old thinks anything that looks cool is cool and she like many of her age just sucks up information and thinks it's great. My 15 year old while still a good student and doing well has lost the true desire to learn mostly due to being a teenager. While she knows that it's her duty to learn so that she can move on to University or the equivalent for now, the fun has gone. I also have a 24 year old son who thinks learning is an amazing thing as do I. The point of this is, TEDkid might be a good idea which many of the talks done in puppet or animations so that the young ones say 4 thru 10 or so would still think that the content was cool because of the vehicle of delivery. This could be the solution to the learning lull that we have in schools! Wow how very exciting.

    TEDkid how about it?
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    Apr 14 2011: As Rahul G. mentioned correctly TED's topics are a little difficult to teens which would make teens get bored and assume TED is just another boring lecture.
    But some special programs for teens, for example; TEDx For Teens, something like this, will attract young adults. In there speakers are not scientists, entrepreneurs but ordinary teenagers live in other country, gifted children, disabled children who try to overcome it.
    These TED programs, I guess, could be possible answers.
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      Apr 17 2011: Why did you want to seperate Adult from teenager?
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        Apr 17 2011: I did't mean separating Adults from teenager. What I tried to say is that we just make special programs for Teens.
  • Apr 14 2011: Since this and other formats were created for adults on TED, why couldn't a seperate Conversations room be created for the children and teens. I would suggest parental/guardian oversight to make sure the kids are alright. It might be, not only interesting, but eye opening as well to read what the kids think about the issues of the day. You know what they say, "Out of the mouths of babes...."
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      Apr 16 2011: Why seperate the teen/children from the adult ?

      Teens have other ideas, other opinion and other lifestyle(I generalize:P)
      Adult have other idea.etc, too...

      Why don't just learn from each other?
      • Apr 19 2011: In answer to your question, "Why seperate teen/children from the adult?" The answer to that is simple; they aren't adults. If you have talks that are simplified for the younger generations, you run the risk of losing the adult audience. If the talks are too deep, you'll lose the young ones.

        I don't know about you, but I'm a parent and a grandparent and my wife and I had always encouraged our kids to think for themselves. But, the bottom line is that they were kids then, and as such, they could only comprehend things from a childs perspective. If a child or teen is mature enough to carry themselves in a deep talk, then I would welcome them. Unfortunately, I think those kinds of kids are too few and too far between, so the best thing to do would be to give them a place they can call their own for their talks on what they believe is important to their generation and, possibly, to the world.
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          Apr 20 2011: I agree with John, I think talks should be accessible, fun and inspiring to watch... otherwise they will watch 1 or 2 talks but we will loose them. It is great to see people like Dan, that have so much will to learn, but not all kids are like that, so it is our job to make it appealing to them. Deep talks and deep ideas in a fun way.
  • Apr 14 2011: I agree with the idea and fully support it =)

    I think as long as we inspire the younger audience and introduce a gaming element in speeches or at the membership level we can attract kids and create tailored videos about the world around us.

    Potential problem is willingness of parents to have their kids exposed to topics outside of typical curriculum and in contradiction to their beliefs esp. in regards to religion, gay rights etc.
  • Apr 14 2011: An alternative would be to leave the complex topics for parents to view, then have them pass the ideas they found relevant and inspiring to their children.

    If my dad would have said, hey watch this, and showed me a great TED lecture when I was younger, I don't know how I would have responded... would I have been inspired the same way I am today? Don't know...

    Interactivity is important.